While time fades memories, nostalgia resurrects them with a new-found whimsy, making one long for them fondly. A similar longing was thickening the air of ‘Grizzly Bears Inn’, as two life-long friends would meet after a very long time.
George arrives unusually early. For someone who’s infamous for his tardiness, it’s nothing less of a miracle. Carol’s husband would be an addition this time and, as her best friend, he felt compelled to make an impression.
She arrives not long after, strutting elegantly across the restaurant with her newly-wed husband. Pleasantries are exchanged after formal introductions. George decides to open with a joke saying, “How’s she?” and then in a muddled voice, “Blink twice if you need help”, with one hand cupping his mouth.
Pete’s good sense of humor helps them get off on the right foot despite that being a trite joke. He goes so far as to name a few of her weird habits and they already have consensus. While they’re busy musing over the details, Carol is rolling her eyes, pouting. But she’s actually amused to see how well they’re getting along.
The initial remark triggers a set of recollections that seem to get progressively funnier. “Remember when you sent your proposal to the wrong Alex? Alex the girl? And she’d accepted! She’s still in love with you, you know”. The teasing continues and Peter pitches in too.
They are swooped away by hysteria and eventually find themselves laughing at anything and everything. Even when the waiter arrives with the bill, they crack a joke or two. And although the waiter isn’t as amused, he’s polite to force a smile.
Towards the end of the night, the conversation mellows down to love and life. George is humbled by the happy young couple. Seeing the fresh, budding romance transpiring before his eyes aroused in him a desire for companionship. Maybe it’s time, he felt, for showing some commitment.
After a gala of a night, they all step out of the restaurant happy: George for his epiphany on love, Pete for making a new friend and Carol for a really fun time. Pete goes to the parking to fetch his car. “I’ll be quick”, he says before leaving.
Although they were hoping for some time alone, a peculiar sense of novelty transfixes them as they stare at each other, lost for words. It felt like they were starting afresh, an inconvenience spawned by nostalgia’s resurrection.
“So…what else?” asks Carol, clueless about where to begin or what to say. She felt a surge of emotion ready to erupt, but unable to find a vent. She was hoping for George to put her out of this misery by breaking the ice, but he was just as clueless. “Nothing much, as usual”, was all he could manage.
Unfortunately, they didn’t have much time beyond that as Pete kept his promise. She smiles to say goodbye before she moves towards their car. An unsettling feeling swells in him, which is distastefully palpable. His unsurety about the feeling prompts him to dismiss it as nostalgia. He would have time enough to ponder over it later, as of now he wishes to cherish this moment.
She boards the car and waves him goodbye. He waves back, with a smile that’s a reification of yearning and joy. He takes one last look before she goes. And just after he sees the tears in her eyes, just before he comprehends their meaning, just before the car speeds away, he manages to notice, that she blinks.